My Thoughts

Adventures in Faith


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.  For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.  In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” Colossians 2:8-12 NKJV

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.  For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.  In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:8-12 NIV

There is confusion over the subject of baptism.  In 1974 a preacher informed me that his church did not require baptism for any purpose.  Most churches believe it is not essential to salvation, but necessary to obedience to Jesus and to join their fellowship or church.  Although baptism is required for church membership, advocates do not believe membership in their church is essential to their salvation.  They understand the believer is saved prior to seeking membership.  Yet, some of those churches believe immersion is required to obey Jesus by following his example.  However, being saved and obeying Jesus are not synonymous.  If one refuses to obey Jesus, it is an indication that his faith wasn’t the “saving kind.”  If his faith is “the saving kind,” he will be immersed to obey Jesus.  There are those that believe immersion is tied in with salvation because one must obey Jesus’ commands.  Obey = right faith.  Refuse = dead faith.  To recite it in a different way: Obey = necessary.  Refuse = not the saving kind of faith.

There are passages where faith and saved stand together without the expression baptism.  Some understand this as God’s example of showing that baptism is not essential to salvation, only necessary for obedience.  The conclusion understood is that if baptism was essential, God would have included it in all passages with the subject of salvation.  This understanding is not applied when the words “repent” and “confession” are missingfrom those faith + saved passages.  Some who believe immersion is essential to salvation also believe one’s obedience is a part of their payment in removing those sins.  For them, works of righteousness, required by God, are their part in that purchase plan.  Others believe that immersion is their faith in action.  Faith + action = a saving faith.  Faith without action = no obedience.

At the beginning of this article are two quotes taken from the same passage, but from different translations.  The first is the New King James Version and the second from the New International Version.  Both are different in some expressions than those found in the 1611 King James Version.

  1. There is a warning to not be deceived by man’s philosophies and traditions. Why?
  2. Because IN Christ God dwells and IN him we are “complete” or “given fullness.” Conclusion: Why settle for man’s offerings?
  3. IN him we received circumcision, which biblically is a sign of a covenant with God.
  • Israel submitted to a fleshly kind. Our circumcision is different.
  • Israel lost their foreskin. We put off or lose the body of flesh or fleshly nature (flesh = old man of sin, Romans 6:2, 6-10; 8:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9).
  1. That circumcision is appropriated when we are “buried with him in baptism and raised with him through faith.

Faith motivates the individual to be circumcised by being buried with Jesus and raised with him, so the sinful nature may be removed.

 What if a person has that one, two, three, four sequences switched?  Would that switch put the new sequence into Paul’s warning found in Number one?  In the Garden, Satan pulled a switch with Eve by inserting the one word “NOT” (Genesis 3:4)!

Just a thought.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Today’s news media reports something as true, but a few issues later have to begrudgingly admit that they were mistaken.  Charges are made by the media, then later withdrawn.  Sometimes there is an apology, but not often.  Such practices used to be called “yellow journalism.”  Today some accept it as truth, even when it is exposed as a lie.  Some prefer to believe it is the truth regardless.  I wondered how those same news outlets would report on Jesus’ activities if they were reporting on them in the first century?


(AP from Tyre and Sidon)

Jesus, traveling in the region of Tyre and Sidon, was approached by a Canaanite woman who requested healing for her daughter.  Being the racist he is, he demonstrated his superiority as a man and a Jew by refusing to acknowledge her presence.  His apostles, also racists, wanted him to get rid of her.  Her presence and pleas were an embarrassment to Jesus and his Jewish staff.  The woman fell at Jesus’ feet begging for help.  Jesus, the self-proclaimed Messiah, referred to her as a “dog.”   The poor woman was humiliated and suffered the abuse in her attempt to save her daughter.  Jesus and entourage left the poor soul behind as they made their way to the region of Lake Galilee (Matthew 15:21-27).


(AP from the Sea of Galilee Region)

Jesus was surrounded by people seeking to be healed.  One woman, who had been sick for twelve years was hoping he could help.  She could not make herself be heard by Jesus due to the noise of the crowd.  She felt if she could tap Jesus on the shoulder and get his attention, maybe he would help her.  She reached, with much effort through the mass of humanity and managed to barely touch him.  The self-proclaimed Messiah abruptly stopped and turned, shocking those around him with his explosive movement.  People were surprised by his harsh demand, “Who touched me?”  He succeeded in embarrassing the woman.  His movement and demand frightened her.  She had sought healing and here was her healer turning to make a fool out of her!  Those who knew Jesus for what he really was, were not surprised by this action (Mark 5:24-30).


(AP near Jerusalem)

Local religious dignitaries were shocked when Jesus entered their city and told the citizens he would work on the Sabbath.  He did not respect Yahweh, the Ten Commandments, God’s sacred rest day, nor the faith of the townspeople.  There were six days this self-proclaimed Messiah could do his works of healing, but he chose to break the Sabbath.  Such blasphemy indicated the type of ministry he was running (Luke 13:14).


(AP from Jerusalem)

Jesus went among a crowd of people who were seeking medical help, but he did not declare who he was.  He singled out one man and asked him, “Do you want to be healed?”  He refused to ask that of the multitude surround this man.  He told the fellow to pick up his mattress and walk away.  The man did, but he should not have done so since it was the Sabbath.  Jesus had told the man to do something that was a violation of their religious law!  The joke was upon that poor man since he found himself in trouble for violating that law.  The man could not tell his accusers who had commanded him to carry his mattress on the Sabbath.  The crowd soon learned what a cruel, unfeeling individual Jesus was and how he enjoyed taking advantage of people in the most bazaar ways (John 5:1-16).  He healed the man but did not reveal who he was, so the poor man was left to take the blame for what Jesus did.  What about the multitude?  They were not asked if they wanted to be healed.  Jesus had no love for them.  He wasn’t interested in their pain nor sickness.

Perhaps this is the reason that the crowds present at Jesus’ trial felt compelled to cry out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”  What would you do if you had read the news media reports about Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph?



Monday, October 2018

We’re all broken.  Some worse than others as far as consequences are concerned.  What many broken people fail to understand is that Satan uses our brokenness to deceive us!  He does this in many ways, too numerous to fit in this article.  However, here are a few.

1. If things are going our way, God is good.  We are being blessed.  Satan steps in and convinces us that we deserve those blessings.  Then everything is taken away.  Our children die in horrible accidents.  Employment is lost.  Bankruptcy is declared.  Most of our friends evaporate.  Family can’t help.  Job suffered from painful sores from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head (Job 2:7).  Medicine would not touch it.  Relief was unavailable (v.8).  But, Mrs. Job wasn’t infected!  Yes, she lost the cushiony life she had become accustomed to.  She lost the prestige of being the wife of a rich and influential husband.  She had lost her children too.  She had been reduced to poverty.  Since hubby had the sores and she didn’t, it had to be his fault.  She had suffered the shame and his condition longer than most women would have endured.  Despite her strength, she had reached her limit!  Her excellent solution to end her dreadful condition was to advise him to “Curse God and die” (Job 2:9).  Did Job’s friends support him or agree with her?  They shared by blaming Job.  If he would confess his sin, things would normalize!  Have you ever been in his shoes?  Have you ever occupied hers?  Have you ever had friends like that?  Have you ever been there?

2. You believe that God loves you because you can quote John 3:16 without fault.  However, you think that if you will make one more visit, read one more Bible chapter, pray one more prayer, talk Jesus to one more person, and volunteer to do one more spiritual activity, God will love you more.  Also, it might help reward you by placing you a little closer to heaven!  Have you ever been there (Matthew 5:5)?

3. Every time the church doors are opened, you are there.  You are engaged in every activity on the church calendar.  Every time a volunteer is required, you are it.  You enjoy people referring to how busy you are for the Lord.  You are proud because you are mending the cracks in your own brokenness.  However, there are those who aren’t engaged in that accomplishment as well as you.  You view others as not being as convicted in their faith as you are because they are not active in what you are involved in.  You thank God for your spiritual strength and speak of it in your prayers.  You also are thankful that you are not as neglectful as others who are nowhere near your spirituality.  Have you ever been there (Luke 18:9-14)?

4. You believe you are a faithful Christian because you are at the church building without fault.  Others are amazed at your spiritual accomplishments.  Your prayers are worth remembering and cloning.  Your obedience is remarkably outstanding.  You are very conscience about crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” in your spiritual journey.   Your memory work is impeccable.  Your recall is without fault.  Your logic is flawless.  If Paul had any competition, you would be it!  Yet, your meekness is noteworthy.  Your patience is coveted.  Your humility is admirable.  Yet invisible to others is the turmoil you live with.  Your face is pointed toward heaven, but your feet seemed to be slipping towards hell.  Your prayers are offered with honesty, but you question your heart and God’s hearing.  You attempt to obey as perfectly as possible, but your imperfection announces your failure.  You know John 3:16 shouts God’s love for you, but you question your love for Him.  You know Jesus paid it all, yet you feel he left room for you to pay something, but you haven’t reached the amount.  You know you are faithful, but aren’t sure if it will ever be complete?  Jesus pled, “Come to me,” but that action on your part lacks perfection (Matthew 11:28-30).  You want to trust Jesus rather than in your abilities, but there is one more thing to do, which you haven’t done, and you know you could have!  Have you ever been there?  Paul was.  Have you not yet realized what he did (Romans 7:24-25; 8:1)?

The devil uses our brokenness to deceive us.  We can listen to him, or we can put our trust in Jesus.  When we do, Paul’s answer makes sense (Romans 8:1).


Thursday, September 27, 2018

When you think about David, what remembrance comes to mind? Is it because:

1. He was a shepherd boy and killed a lion and a bear protecting his father’s sheep?
2. He stood up to Goliath and killed him?
3. He soothed King Saul by playing a harp?
4. He wrote most of the Psalms?
5. King Saul attempted to kill him?
6. He and King Saul’s son, Jonathan, were very good friends?
7. He had several wives?
8. He was a great warrior?
9. He was King over Israel?
10. His son Absalom tried to dethrone him?
11. He committed fornication with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba?
12. He numbered Israel and as a result, 70,000 men perished?

Here is an interesting comment in First Kings.

“Because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite” (1 Kings 15:5 NKJV, Emphasis mine, RH).

The Living Bible expresses it like this,

“For David had obeyed God during his entire life except for the affair concerning Uriah the Hittite” (1 Kings 15:5 TLB, Emphasis mine, RH).

In the New Testament David is listed in “God’s Hall of Faith” between Jephthah and Samuel (Hebrews 11:32). Luke records Paul’s speech in which the statement is made that God said, “’I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’” (Acts 13:22 NKJV, Emphasis mine, RH).

With that testimony, one might think David’s one and only sin was with Uriah’s wife and later putting Uriah in a position for the enemy to kill him. As a child I was taught about David, but his fornication and complicity to have Uriah killed was never introduced. Most children have a vision of David being a boy with a remarkable ability to use a slingshot. Probably most shepherd boys were! As children, we never aligned David and sin together during those formative years.

Did David sin more than once? Some know about his sin of numbering Israel. God spared David, but not 70,000 men. Because of his fornication, the son born from that act died, but not David.
Some know David killed Goliath, but few realize that he severed the giant’s head and took it with him when he went to Jerusalem (1 Samuel 17:54). Young boys would relish such stories just as girls would not! Teachers avoided such details in Sunday School. Those details would have been “R” rated in the fifties!

Quite a few do not realize that David was a mighty warrior. He usually fought side by side with his men. As a warrior king, he was commissioned to kill pagan enemies, which included men, women, boys, girls, and babies! That’s right! Why? Because the idolatrous adults would raise their children to believe and practice what they did. David and Israel were God’s instrument of vengeance upon those who rejected Him and substituted wood, stone, and metal to worship. Despite their immorality, David would fellowship with his enemies while running from Saul yet be deceptive with them. Today, we would say he would stab them in the back when they weren’t looking! Yet, th0se actions, as horrible as they were, did not label him as faithless. Remember, he is in God’s “Hall of Faith”!

The fact that he had more than one wife, at the same time, would eliminate him from membership in most churches today. Even if some could overlook his multiple wives, wouldn’t having a woman’s husband killed because he got her pregnant, get him banned from most memberships today? Even if he killed a dangerous enemy and was an excellent sling-shooter, wouldn’t we vomit at the sight of him carrying Goliath’s head as he motored down Main Street in a welcoming parade? Would today’s admirers give David a slap of congratulations on his back because he separated multitudes of children from their families? That’s what happens when you kill children (babies) with the older members of the family!

We live under a different and better covenant than David. The kingdom we are in is different from his (John 18:36). Our entrance into that kingdom family is different (John 3:3, 5-6). Our mission is unlike his (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16, 20a; Luke 24:46-47). Our sword and armor are completely different (Ephesians 6:11-17). We offer life in the name of Jesus (John 3:15-16; 5:40; 10:10; Acts 2:40-41)! Because of Jesus, our slate is wiped clean (Acts 3:19; Colossians 2:13; 1 John 2:12). Regardless of what a person has been guilty of, God will forgive (Romans 8:1). When one receives God’s word and is baptized, God adds that individual to the saved body of Jesus (Acts 2:41, 47). Not only is he forgiven, but his sins are never brought up again. (Acts 2:41; Hebrews 10:17). When a person is “in Christ,” there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). When an individual becomes a Christian, he takes his place with David among the faithful of the Old Testament! His name is written in the book of Life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5). Is your name written there?


Monday, September 24, 2018

Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the invention of the telephone, but you probably didn’t realize it all came down to his attorney’s punctuality. Had he arrived at the U.S. Patent Office just two hours later, we would be talking about Elisha Gray being the man behind the squawk box, and Bell would have been just another of a long line of men who missed their chance at fame and fortune.  What if Bell’s lawyer wasn’t a punctual individual?  What if Elisha Gray was always early for his appointments?  If so, history would have to be rewritten!

Have you ever been late for an appointment?  Did you apologize for your tardiness?  Did you lose your contract with that appointee?  Perhaps I have the wrong impression, but it seems that some are always late in arriving for the Sunday assembly!  One could blame the clock once, but every week?  Usually if punctuality is not important to an individual as far as his faith is concerned, he usually has that same habit about other appointments.

Peter and John went to the Temple for prayer at the ninth hour (Acts 3:1).  What if the lame man’s family was five minutes late in carrying him to his usual spot to beg?  There would have been no miraculous healing.  Peter and John would have gone for prayer, but the reason for Peter’s sermon would not have been present.  This lack of preaching would have left the priests, captain of the Temple, and the Sadducees void of any offense.  No arrest would have taken place.  Five thousand would not have become believers (Acts 4:4).  Peter and John would not have been arrested.  Neither would they have had the opportunity to teach the ruling religious party.  There would have been no need to report to the church nor for that group to assemble and pray.  The book of Acts would be shorter due to the void left by the material from 3:2 to 4:31.

From time to time, being late may be unavoidable, but is that true for one who makes it a habit?  There are some events, regardless of habit, where one will not be late, but on time (Hebrews 9:27)!  Are you ready for that appointment?


Thursday, September 10, 2018

Most believers wish to be respectful to God. That desire is commendable. How do we show that respect? Is it done by the men wearing a suit, tie, white shirt, socks and shoes that have been shined? Do women accomplish that desire by wearing an expensive dress, just the right make-up, correctly coiffured hair, and the latest style shoes? We are told that one shows respect by entering the sanctuary (auditorium) quietly.

There is nothing wrong with men wearing a nice suit or women buying a nice dress to wear in the assembly. However, not one single apostle or prophet thought respect was built with style. I doubt if Peter’s wife turned to him and said, “You’re not wearing THAT to church, are you?” If you want to please God, it isn’t about the cost of your clothing and how impressive it is to men (James 2:2-4). What is important is the character that clothes your spirit. Paul said, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph.4:24). That is what shows respect to God. So what are you wearing prior to, during, and after the assembly is dismissed?

Is your church on Sunday morning more formal than it is on Sunday night? Is Wednesday evening more informal than Sunday night? Is Sunday School more informal than Wednesday evening? What scripture teaches this formalism? New Testament assemblies were not divided into formal and informal. Suit and ties on Sunday morning and dress shirt and slacks on Sunday night are man, not God made. So, where did formalism come from? Isn’t it man’s creation to emphasize the externals? When we go to the Bible to find what guidelines we should use to determine which assemblies are formal and which are informal, silence is our reward. Formalism alienates the disadvantaged. It attracts our social equals. It places a burden on those who worry about being accepted by man. God looks at our heart, not at the price tag on our suit. We may impress others with what we wear, but that isn’t what God is searching for.

The LORD does not look at the things which man views. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).


Monday, September 17, 2018

“On bended knee I come, with a humble heart I come;

Bowing down before Your holy throne.

Lifting holy hands to You, As I pledge my love a – new, –

I worship You in spirit, I worship you in truth;

Make my life a holy praise unto You.”


Paul told the Corinthians church, “I will sing with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

If we were in pre-school through the third grade, we might animate our singing by doing what the words state in the above song.  We would bend the knee or bow down, as well as raise up holy hands (1 Timothy 2:8).   But, wouldn’t that only be in a VBS or a child’s class?  Adults would sing the words but never put them into action.   When we sing this song, we are either standing or sitting.  Isn’t that an action?  Most never bend a knee nor bow down.  One or two might lift up holy hands, but that isn’t the common practice followed by most worshipers.

When we sing the “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” outlined in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, do we mean what we are singing?  Paul was admonishing the Corinthians to sing with understanding.  Do we?  We sing the words of the last two lines above, but is our singing as stated in the song — “in spirit, I worship you in truth”?  We sing one song by saying, “I love you Lord.”  Are those just words, like “on bended knee I come” or “lifting holy hands to You.”  Is our heart involved in doing what we sing?  Paul tells two congregations to make “melody in your heart to the Lord” and “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  What if the mechanics of singing acappella is correct, but “in our heart” is missing?

Is our worship performed out of habit or is it in giving honor to God and edifying one another?  If it is habitual, is it the kind of worship being accomplished which Jesus spoke about in John 4:23-24?  Is it personal or put on?  It might be routine but is it “in spirit and in truth”?

If, because of the wording of this song we bowed down on our knees and raise our hands, are we only crossing things off our “to do list”?  Innocent habits may turn into traditions which future generations will address as “law.”  In some songs, at certain places, we clap.  In other songs that habit has not been established.  If we do something out of habit, rather than “in our heart,” are we still “in spirit and in truth”?  Why clap on one song but not others?  These questions are not written to condemn, only to make us aware of our actions which we label as “worship.”  When we sing, “On bending knee I come,” are we practicing what we sing?  Perhaps the words are poetic and meant metaphorically?

If I am singing the words, but disconnected from their message, what happens to the “in spirit and in truth” part?  If I justify myself by saying, “Everyone does it,” does that make it right?  What if that song had been written as . . .


Standing or sitting I come, with a humble heart I come;

Bowing my head before Your holy throne.

Tapping my foot to You, As I pledge my love a – new, –

I worship You in spirit, I worship you in truth;

Make my life a holy praise unto You.”


Would that have more meaning and be in tune with my actions while singing it?

The lesson?

I will sing with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

Only a thought.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

When I went to Russia for the first time in 1992, we visited the first McDonalds to be established in Moscow.  The square was filled with young people.  The line stretched for a block and a half.  At first, I thought they were all Americans because they wore what our youth did.  Yet, they were Russians. They looked like us, but they weren’t.  Have you noticed how often Christians do that?  We dress like the world.  We talk like the world.  We even think like the world.  When we do, we are putting Jesus on the back burner.  Why?  Because this is the “here and now,” and heaven seems so far away!  Religion becomes an emergency cell phone to only call the Divine 911.  However, until faith in Jesus becomes our daily garment, we will be nothing more than flashlights with dead batteries.  How far away is heaven for you?

That condition isn’t reserved for the young or middle aged only.  It infects the older generations too.  Sin comes in different shades.  Satan convinces us that our shade isn’t as bad as another person’s.  The thought is advanced that even though we are guilty, we can repent after self is satisfied.  Eve thought the forbidden was good, pleasant, and desirable (Genesis 3:6).  She probably thought, “Since God made everything good, why isn’t it good enough to eat” (Genesis 1:3, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).  Since God made everything good, isn’t the next logical step, “Since everything is good, and that good is pleasant to behold, it must be God’s dessert just waiting for us to taste.”  Logic certainly would be in favor of adding, “anything that is good to eat and pleasant to behold, must have been put here by God to make us wise.”  Perhaps Adam was so silent in all this because he was dumbfounded by his beautiful wife’s logic?  In fact, don’t we continue to mimic it today?

The Old Testament speaks well of David.  He is held in high esteem by the Jews.  The New Testament places him in “Faith’s Hall of Fame” (Hebrews 11:32).  Despite his faith, the following passage is a glaring reminder that none are perfect, and all need the Lord.

For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life–except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.” (1 Kings 15:5.  Also see Romans 3:10, 23).

I cannot make myself perfect.  That is not my goal.  Jesus can make me perfect through his blood and God’s grace.  Heaven may seem far away, but the distance need not to be measured if we put our complete trust in Jesus now!


Monday, September 10, 2018

I’m 81 years old.  In those years I have never seen as much hate manifested as is found in this country today.  Hatred has an awesome penalty.  It destroys the one who is infected.  Hitler and the Nazi Party had a passionate hate for Jews.  They were successful in murdering six million.  Despite Hitler’s efforts, Jews continued to thrive, even reestablishing themselves in Palestine in 1948.  Where is Hitler and his Party today?

Hatred is an ugly weapon created to destroy another.  It attracts added companions to hurt those who are hated.   One may be so riddled with hate that he vomits volumes of lies labeled as truth.  Blindness is married to both allowing the initiator to justify his ownership of all three.

If hatred, lying, and blindness isn’t enough, the person allows himself to be infected with a false sense of righteousness.  He justifies the riots, violence, and lawbreaking because the government is oppressing the downtrodden.  Some will quote Peter’s words in Acts 5:29, “We ought to obey God rather than men” as their marching banner.  Peter wasn’t questioning the oppression brought on by the occupation of Roman troops.  He wasn’t preaching that the high priests were little more than puppets of Rome.  The court wanted Peter to stop teaching about Jesus.  The church did not mobilize Christians to protest against Rome with riots, violence, ransacking stores, or burning peoples’ property.  The church didn’t pray for courage to get in the face of others and dirty their faces with profanity.  Such actions would not be the spirit of Christ!

Hate causes neighbors to be intolerant of one another.  It drives believers to avoid other saints, erasing their brotherhood fellowship.  It eats away at the spiritual heart, replacing it with a cold and uncompromising one.  Smiles turn into misery that cannot heal nor comfort.  Friendships are strained to the breaking point.  Some snap.  Valid communication is lost.  Neither the hater nor the hated profit from such actions.  When such takes place, look around.  Search diligently.  Satan is somewhere close!  His heart surgery has been successful!

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